of Alexandria

page 2




A fanciful account would have us believe that the mirror was used to burn approaching enemy ships by focusing the sun rays on them. 


The Lighthouse of Alexandria was conceived in the early 3rd century BC by the ruler Ptolemy I, an ex-general of Alexander the Great, the conqueror who founded and gave his name to Alexandria. Ptolemy II (the son of Ptolemy I) finished constructing the Lighthouse of Alexandria about 25 years later.

Three tiers

The Lighthouse of Alexandria had three basic structural elements. A rectangular base, an octagonal midsection, and a cylindrical upper section which housed the beacon (see above picture).

Estimates for the combined height of the three sections range from 100 to 180 meters (330 to 600 feet). A consensus of reliable sources sets the figure at about 120 meters (400 feet).

World's second tallest

Except for the great pyramids of Egypt, the Lighthouse of Alexandria during its lifespan was the tallest structure in the world.


During the 1300's, the gradual disintegration of this Seven Wonder accelerated. The chief culprits were human neglect and a series of unusually severe earthquakes. By 1400 AD, the Lighthouse of Alexandria was in ruins.

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